Leadership lessons from a storm rider (3)

The tragedy of Africa’s misfortune with leadership continues to boggle the mind. I watched a news report over the weekend about the discovery of one hundred and thirty million United States Dollars in the house of recently deposed President of Sudan, Al-Bashir. It amazes me that African leaders never learn from history. Jean Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic, Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, Mohammed Gadhafi of Libya, Mobutu Sese Seko of the Republic of Congo, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, General Sanni Abacha of Nigeria, Sergeant Doe of Liberia; Africa’s historical landscape is replete with examples of rulers who ended ingloriously because of greed and megalomania resulting in a total disconnect with the reality of the nations they presided over. Many of them plunged their countries into war, wasting millions of lives because of selfish interests. Yet successive ones hardly ever learn. Sudan is a country that recently came out of a civil war and its attendant ravages on material and human capital. It is unthinkable that in the midst of the grueling poverty over which he presided with millions of his country’s citizens living well below the poverty line, a leader would stash that amount of money in his house. But this is Africa. Her leaders never learn from history until they become history! Sad. Back to our discourse.

Focus is the first casualty of unbridled fear. Every storm is designed to distract you though fear’s rule of terror!

No matter the pressure you are under, keep your eyes on the goal. Great players never focus on the scoreboard. They leave that to the spectators. Those who do the things that count hardly have the time to count them. Take your fears on. It is better to experience rejection than to regret knowing that you could have been accepted. If you aim for the stars, chances are that you may not get to the stars, but it is obvious that your feet would have clearly left the ground! Falter he did, yes, but Peter registered his name in history as the only man apart from Jesus who, even if for a brief period, ever walked on water! The storms that come against you simply help you to rack up the number of victories you scored or can score. Every one you overcome simply embellishes your success story.

One man’s fear is another man’s current victory story. The same storm that threatened Peter and his colleagues was the one that Jesus was walking majestically on as if oblivious of its existence. The victories of those who have gone ahead of us are simply to inspire us to possibilities. Those who have at one time or the other walked or are currently walking a path that we so desire to walk are God’s signposts to us that the miraculous is only a breath away if we could only believe.

No matter how fierce the source of your fear, it must never be allowed to drown the voice of the source of your inspiration. You cannot be inspired by the situation that has already defeated you! Storms were never designed to last forever. If there is a giving up to do, it should not be you doing it! Leave that to the storm. You were wired to outdo and outlast any storm. That is the stuff testimonies are made of. The stories of great men are not written merely around their successes. The panoply of colours in its tapestry is usually a combination of diverse valley and mountain-top experiences with the brightest of the colours featuring at the valley moments that ended in glorious mountain-top victories. The story of Thomas Edison as one who gave the world over one thousand patented inventions is always intriguing to hear. But what really makes it more exhilarating is when you see the many chapters of failures and opportunities he had to give up. One of his inventions, the incandescent light bulb did not see reality until after almost one thousand tries! More than any other thing that undergirded the achievement trajectory of Edison, his attitude, reflected in his stoicism and dogged resistance of pressure, makes his story an achiever’s read! I read somewhere that at a point in his life, everything around him seemed to have fallen apart. His financiers pulled the plug on funding his “crazy” and serially unsuccessful experiments. No bank wanted to add Edison’s name to their list of debtors. Everyone he turned to treated him like a pariah. But he never gave up! One day, while he was thinking of a way out, he got a message that his factory was on fire. Getting there, what he saw could have made anyone of lesser mettle simply collapse and have a justifiable heart attack. Rather, his face betrayed no negative emotions. He was the one comforting his depressed and emotionally deflated staff! Edison was reported to have run all the way back to his house to call his wife to come and witness an event that may never be repeated in their lifetime. He overcame all of that to become the world’s most cited inventor. You don’t become an overcomer by the battles you refuse to fight. There is nothing to overcome unless there is first something to confront.

The one who tried and faltered or even failed is always ahead of the multitude that never ventured because of the apparent safety of their even visibly unstable boat! The world is full of status quo thinkers, survivalists who simply dislike a rocking or rocked boat.  Even when the boat is visibly rocked, all they think about is how to stabilize it rather than consider life outside it. And boy, they will sneer at any one of them who insists on doing something different. Such never make history!

Jesus did for Peter what so many leaders can learn from. He reached out to Peter, pulled him out of the water before he could be submerged by it and led him back to the boat, walking on the same turbulence that Peter was earlier afraid of. Successful leaders never gloat over a follower’s faltering moves. Rather, they are always willing to reach out to give the faltering follower a hand-up to redeem, reassure, stabilize and reposition him for future relevance! They may rebuke them for their lack of faith but that is after the rescue! At the point at which he is overwhelmed or about to be submerged in a life-threatening situation because he dared to take a risk that others were too timid to take, a follower does not need judgment. Only an insecure leader wants his follower to fail just to prove to the follower that he (follower) is incompetent. With an “I told you so” kind of look and reaction to the follower’s faux-pas, the insecure leader literally deliberately sets out to use the gaffe to humiliate him just to prove how “invincible” and powerful the leader is. That is how the timid leader creates a cultic mystique around himself.

But with the storm rider, His greatest joy is to see all his followers become like Him. Emulate Him!

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!